People first is the motto of this dealership group plus an auto business optimist

I was at the Women in Automotive conference in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs, earlier this week. This is my second time to attend WIA and I feel like I got more out of it this time. It probably helped that I didn’t have to spend hours on a plane to get there. I live in Los Angeles, a few hours away by car. I think the content spoke to me more this time, as well. Or perhaps I was just more receptive.

Attendees ranged from women who were dealer principles, dealership CFOs, and marketing managers to women who worked for dealership vendors and who were consultants. There were also men there, as speakers and as attendees. I think it is important for men to attend WIA, both to learn and to know how it feels to be one of a few of their gender in the room.

The topics at WIA are equally valuable to men or women. One phrase that popped up again and again was customer experience. No surprise there. At WIA, the discussion often centered on how women frequently desire a different sort of customer experience than men. Also, how women working in the sales and service departments deliver a different kind of customer experience to both male and female customers.

You’ve all read the statistics on how important women are as both buyers and influencers of purchasing decisions. They are also service customers – and the service department is where dealerships are now looking to make up for shrinking new car margins. I recommend women-focused conferences such as WIA to all my male readers out there. It will be good for business.

On to this week’s issue! This week I profile a dealer who is very focused on understanding his employees’ needs and goals and helping them achieve them. David Hodges of Hodges Management Group returned again and again to the importance of people to the success of his business. Read more in this issue about his goals as he and his brother build their new dealership group.

The Fed just raised interest rates. Sales growth has plateaued. New business models seem to threaten the traditional dealership operation. Ira Silver isn’t worried. Read why he is optimistic about both the dealership business and the buy sell sector.


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